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    • Join Date: Jul 2007
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    #1

    Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Which questions are correct from grammatical point of view?

    1) What should I do to not see this message?
    2) What should I do not to see this message?

    3) What should I do this message not to be displayed?
    4) What should I do this message to not be displayed?

  1. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    Which questions are correct from grammatical point of view?

    1) What should I do to not see this message?
    2) What should I do not to see this message?

    3) What should I do this message not to be displayed?
    4) What should I do this message to not be displayed?
    Hi, Tvita! Nice to meet you!
    "What should I do not to see this message?" and "What should I do with this message not to be displayed?" are correct.


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    #3

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    By 1 - 4 sentences I mean "what I should do to make the message invisible".

    The meaning of all sentences is the same I just tried to express it using different ways: 1-2 - using active form; 3-4 - using passive form.

    Could you please explain to me what is the first sentence meaning from your point of view?

    And what is correct version of 2 and 4 sentences?

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    From a strictly grammatical point of view; i.e., Standard English, there's this rule that states that you shouldn't split an infinitive (See example 1), but speakers don't always adhere to prescribed rules:

    1) What should I do to not see this message?
    2) What should I do not to see this message?

    The same holds true for the other examples, but the non-split infinitive one ( example 3) remains ungrammatical:

    3) What should I do this message not to be displayed?
    4) What should I do this message to not be displayed?

    Suggestion
    What should I do to make sure this message does not display?

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    #5

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    You are right about speakers not following 'the rule'. In fact, I much prefer #1.
    What should I do (in order) to not see this message.
    What should I do (in order) to not gain weight.

    The object is to not have some specific thing happen.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Quote Originally Posted by Niall Beag View Post
    Is it an error message on a computer? If so I'd say
    What do I have to do to stop seeing this message? (or even getting this message)

    see is quite an awkward verb to deal with in this sense, because see, in this sense, is not volitional: you do not choose what your eyes see -- your eyes see anything that is placed in front of them.
    Tvita,

    To avoid raising the hackles of people who think you shouldn't split infinitives it's best to follow Niall's advice and use another verb with negative implications - like "stop" or "avoid" or "prevent" ... (etc., as required by the context).

    b


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    #7

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    The point was that I just want to learn a new structure.

    So I don't find how to say this in other ways :)

    If I restructure 3d sentence in the following way:

    What should I do for this message not to be displayed?

    would it be correct from grammatical point of view?

  4. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    The point was that I just want to learn a new structure.

    So I don't find how to say this in other ways :)

    If I restructure 3d sentence in the following way:

    What should I do for this message not to be displayed?

    would it be correct from grammatical point of view?
    Look through the posts again and you'll find the answer to your question.
    Cheers!

  5. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #9

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Try,

    Ex: What should I do so that this message is not displayed?

    Ex: What should I do so that this message does not display (on its own)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    The point was that I just want to learn a new structure.
    OK. No worries. The structure that you're asking about is called a negated infinitive. Like these examples:

    negated to-infinitive: not to do
    negated bare infinitive: to not do

    You can use either structure, but be sure you know the basics before you go ahead and do so.

    Not is a negative adverb and to do is an infinitive verb. There are two kinds of infinitives, those that take the to-particle and those that don't:

    to-infinitive: to do (e.g., They want to do the homework.)
    bare infinitive: do (e.g. Watch them do the homework.)

    Now, to negate those examples sentences the adverb not is added before the verb you want to negate. Like this,

    1. They do not want to do the homework.
    2. Watch them not do the homework.

    Notice the form not do in 2. occurs naturally in the grammar, because it is for that very reason that speakers and writers split to-infinitives here:

    Ex: What should I do to not see this message? <split>
    Ex: What should I do not to see this message?

    Both of those examples reflect native-speaker English; however, traditionalists' views, which many exams questions are based on, feel that since to see is entire verb, the adverb not shouldn't come between it:

    Traditionalists
    What should I do to not see this message?
    What should I do not to see this message?

    Now, non-traditionalists, also called descriptivists, look at how speakers use language, and so when they see speakers splitting to-infinitives, they don't say it's ungrammatical or unacceptable or wrong, they ask why speakers are doing it. According to descriptivists, speakers split infinitives because the to-particle carries no meaning, and so the closer an adverb is to the word it modifes, the more powerful the modification will be. Which is why some, if not most native speakers will tell you that the first example--the one prescriptivists find ungrammatical--sounds better than the second example:

    Descriptivists
    What should I do to not see this message?
    What should I do not to see this message?


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    #10

    Re: Questions with "not to" and "to not"

    Hi Harry!

    I have good memory , I remember your example, but in the text book which you recommended me (Michael Swan) there is the following rule:

    Infinitive clause introduced by noun/pronoun:

    Ann will be happy for the children to help you (The children will help you).

    Similar to this:

    What should I do for the message not to be displayed. (Message should not be displayed).

    My opinion is that your example: "What should I do with this message not to be displayed" is incorrect.

    Let native speakers decide who is right
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 4444.JPG  

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